Monday, May 31, 2010

Writing the Historical Romance

 Morning, Pixels! Just a quick post this morning.

My Write Integrity web site was "attacked" by some kind of malware (we're not sure how it happened - that's still being investigated.) The hosting company has removed it, and everything is back to normal - except for Google's block of the site. We've requested a review, and are waiting for them to review it to remove the block.

In the meantime, we have another WIES Workshop coming up, and people may not be able to get to the site to register for it. So, I'm posting a link here on the blog in hopes that anyone interested in taking the course can register here if they can't get through on the web site.

Here's the course info:

Writing the Historical Romance

Students will get an overview of the most common time periods and settings selling in the CBA. A variety of research techniques, scene setting, use of historical details and figures within stories will also be discussed. Students will do a market analysis and prepare a proposal for submission, along with developing a resource file.

Instructor: Kathleen Fuller

Course Dates: June 7, 2010 - July 16, 2010

Cost: $125

To Register: Click on the button below and submit your registration fees. Your payment is your registration. A few days prior to the beginning of your course, you will be added to the course e-mail group. If you wish to use a different address than the one submitted with Paypal, please add a note to your payment, or send Tracy an e-mail when you send payment.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Memory Playing Tricks

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Yesterday’s Promise
By Delia Latham

Memory is a tricky thing, and Latham uses its mysteries to create an intriguing story. Hannah Johns falls in love with, and marries, a handsome stranger who abandons her after fathering her child. Three years later he buys the lounge where she works, but acts as if he’s never met her. What should Hannah do?

The book is the story of how Hannah resolves that question. In spite of the insecurity Brock has created in her, she tries to interact with him in a godly manner. She doesn’t tell him who she is, but patiently tries to find out what has happened to him. She also
takes time to face the past and the emotions she has suppressed.

The way Latham tells the story reminds me of the gothic novels I loved as a teen, by authors such as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. The difference is that Yesterday’s Promise is a much simpler story. It doesn’t have a second love interest to distract Hannah or a secondary plot to complicate the story. Nor does it have any deep themes. It’s a simple love story with an intriguing premise.

I enjoyed reading it and liked the characters. The descriptions of Yosemite National Park grounded the story in a real setting. But I had a problem with time. I couldn’t quite place when the story was set. Hannah drove a Mustang and cell phone, but her childhood was so sheltered, I wanted to place her in the early part of the 20th century. The flashbacks confused me and I had to keep checking when things had happened. It also felt to me like the whole story was rushed. Less than four years pass from their first meeting to the end of the book and Brock and Hannah fall in love in a week. Later we’re told that neither of them are impulsive. That didn’t ring true.

The book isn’t very long and definitely worth devoting an afternoon to read it.

Pros: Interesting plot with a satisfying ending. Good love story.

Cons: It’s only available as an e-book.

About the book:

Hannah Johns supports the child born of that ill-fated union by singing in a dinner lounge. Her dream of someday owning the elite establishment and turning it into a venue more suited to her Christian values is shattered when an unexpected transaction places it in the hands of Brock Ellis, the handsome biker who abandoned her in their honeymoon suite.

Ensuing sparks fly high, revealing buried secrets and forgotten pasts. Seeking to find peac
e with her painful past, Hannah returns to Yosemite, and Brock follows hard on her heels. Back where it all began, she finds herself in danger of losing her heart yet again to the man who shattered it the first time around.

About the author:

Writing has been Delia's passion since third grade, when she won an essay writing contest and took home the coveted prize: a beautiful bed doll with a pink quilted satin skirt. Winning that contest made a profound impact on her young psyche - enough so that she never stopped writing. Delia writes songs, poems and greeting card verse as well as short stories, articles and novels.

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Editing Tip #31: Book Publishing Options

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.

~ Book Publishing Options (part one) ~

Today, there are numerous ways to get a book published. This week, we’ll talk about one. In subsequent weeks, we’ll cover some alternatives.

Commercial Publishing
Most writers want to be published by a big, commercial, royalty-paying publisher. But most publishing houses focus the majority of their efforts on previously published authors who already have an established fan base. If you’re not at that level, getting a standard publisher to print your book can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. You can become a commercially published author by taking these steps:

a. Learn the craft. (Take classes, join writers’ groups, study writing books, books on punctuation, grammar, and spelling, and books in your genre. Read blogs with writing tips—like this one!)

b. Publish small pieces first (articles, scripts, Sunday school papers, etc.).

c. Polish your book manuscript. (Do your best and then hire a professional editor.)

d. Decide what types of books you want to become known for. (Publishers aren’t looking for single book ideas; they want to invest in authors who plan to write multiple similar books.)

e. Design a marketing plan for selling your books.

f. Network with people in the industry through conferences and conventions.

g. Prepare a proposal, and get it professionally edited.

h. Submit the proposal to agents and small publishers that accept the kind of writing you do.

i. Send the complete manuscript to any agents or publishers who request it. (And prepare for rejection, because that’s the most likely response.)

j. Wait while one or more publishing committees consider your book idea. (And prepare for rejection, because that’s still the most likely response.)

k. If you get a contract, work with the publisher to edit and proofread your manuscript, then accept their choice of title, book cover, back-cover copy, etc.

l. Promote your book through book signings, radio and TV interviews, your Web site, speaking engagements, social media networking, etc.

m. Approximately one to two years after receiving the contract from the publisher, you’ll receive a few free copies of your book. Order several more at the author’s discount price. Give them to friends, family members, and influential people (like book reviewers).

n. Write more books.

Sound like a lot of work? It is! Writing is a profession, and like most careers, a substantial investment of time and money is required to be successful.

Now, you could hire a professional author to write your book for you. But:

a. Most professional authors are busily working on their own careers.

b. Ghostwriting (aka collaborating or coauthoring) requires a substantial amount of time, which translates into a significant amount of money.

c. Good ghostwriters rarely work on a contingency basis, putting in all the time and expertise required to write a book and pitch it to publishers in exchange for a percentage of potential royalties. This usually only happens with celebrities whose well-recognized names can virtually guarantee high sales.

d. There’s no guarantee that even a great ghostwriter will be able to get your book commercially published.

If this sounds discouraging, don’t despair! Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about alternatives to commercial publishing.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Truth Will Set You Free

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Almost Forever
By Deborah Raney

Almost Forever starts with a tragedy. Five firefighters are killed when a homeless shelter burns down. The book follows two of the surviving spouses as they deal with the grief and anguish of their loss. Bryn Hennesey worked at the shelter where her husband lost his life and was there the night of the fire. She not only has to go on living without him, she also has a burden of guilt she tries to suppress. She finds she can talk to Garrett Edmonds, whose wife was one of the lost firefighters. They find comfort in each other’s company and their friendship grows, in spite of their raw grief.

The first half of the book seemed like a straightforward romance, with the conflict coming from the grief and anguish the characters must face. But chapters of predictable events, something happens to Bryn that changes her life – and her character. She faces a hard decision and does what she thinks God wants her to do. This event not only changes Bryn, but also changes the nature of the story. None of the events that I foresaw happened. (Well, maybe one, but that was at the end.) Raney surprised me at every turn and after a ho-hum start, I found myself gripped by Bryn’s actions and the reactions of those around her.

I have to admit, the beginning of the book bored me a bit. The tragic events at the beginning did not grab me because they were followed by fairly predictable responses by the characters. While some of that was necessary to set up the events in the last half of the book, I think Raney could have condensed it. When I got to what I consider to be the real story, I almost felt like I had been reading a really long prologue. But from that point, I really related to Bryn’s complex character and difficult decisions. If you’re like me, you’ll want to skim the first half, but really focus on the rest.

Pros: Characters who face difficult situations and respond as you would expect, but then allow God to shape their decisions and character.

Cons: The author takes a little too long to get to the heart of the story.

About the Book:

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear… but could it also set her free?

Bryn Hennesey, a volunteer at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, was there the night the shelter burned to the ground and five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam. Like the rest of the surviving spouses, Bryn must find a way to begin again. But Bryn must do so living with a horrible secret.…

Garrett Edmonds’s wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. As her husband, it was his job to protect the woman he loved.… How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss and guilt?

And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer….

About the Author:

Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was awarded a Silver Angel from Excellence in Media and inspired the acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Since then her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the National Readers' Choice Award; Raney was also a finalist for the Christy Award. She and her husband, artist Ken Raney, make their home in their native Kansas.

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Much Ado About Nothing


When I sit down to write an article, generally speaking I have the seed of an idea already formed in my head. They come to me most often at about five in the morning when all in the world is quiet and asleep. (All except me, it seems.) I usually lay there and stare at the ceiling, mulling over what points substantiate the idea or what photographs to include. Later, when I actually sit down to type it all out, it's square in my thinking and flows smoothly down to the page.

This is not one of those articles.

The fact is, about twice a year I come up empty. Sometimes I am too busy; other times I am tired or not feeling well. Whatever the reason, the deadline for posting always approaches, and the harder I think on it, the more I become like a Seinfeld episode "about absolutely nothing". If there is one thing I've learned about writing, it's that inspiration cannot be pushed. When it's not there, it's simply not there. It's in times like these that I turn then to other areas to get myself going again.

Here's an example.

My brother is forever photographing his granddaughter. She is the cutest little thing with a personality as big as her smile. My own daughter is a teenager and seems to be going through the, "No, Mom, don't photograph me," point of her life, so I live now vicariously through "Grandpa Dole's" images of her. (Dole is not his name, but how she pronounces his name.) No matter what I am doing, she always brings a smile to my face. Who would not want to take up photographing children if they were as adorable as she is?



I've also taken to watching a lot of films from the 1930s and 40s. I have yet to pinpoint the appeal they have for me. I think it is partially because they are so much "cleaner" than a lot of what's on television. The rest might be the idea of "living history", seeing things my grandparents grew up with.

The other evening in flipping the channel, I happened across one from 1956 with quite the cast - Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, even Louis Armstrong. Soon the plot of the film became secondary to the music. It was that superb! I really liked the jazz number (below) with Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong singing duet. You just cannot get much better than that!

"So what is the point?," you ask.

Well, this IS a blog about nothing, isn't it? On the other hand, I think my thought is that sometimes you can find inspiration in areas where you least expect it. I love, love, love photography, and I enjoy flipping through the online galleries of other people's images as much as doing anything else. In fact, I do this a lot to stimulate my own imagination. But sometimes, especially when I am running on empty, I take a break and just find something small that makes me smile. I take a happy minute all to myself.

You know, it comes to me now that maybe this blog isn't about nothing. Maybe in the end it was about something after all.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Markets for Christian Devotional Writing

How to Find a Market for Written Devotions
There are many markets for devotional writing – some paying and others not. There is no harm in starting out with non-paying markets as it gives experience and published clips to show to future editors. Apart from that, devotionals reach people’s hearts and have the potential to draw them closer to God.

Where are Devotionals Published
Daily devotions come in several forms including hard or soft cover books that span a year, monthly or quarterly booklets, and devotions that are delivered daily by email. There is sometimes a fair delay between submission and publication. In August 2008 I wrote some devotionals for a publisher that puts out yearly books. I received payment after submission and thirty books in January 2010. Each publisher will have their own timelines and methods.

Links to Sites that Accept Devotional Submissions
Here are a few sites to check out – I haven’t submitted anything to these myself but they are worth having a look at.

Augsburg Fortress

Forward Movement Publications

Judson Press

Penned from the Heart

Standard Publishing

The Brink

Upper Room

If you have any success with these or have a site you can recommend, please come back and leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

Read Part One here - How to Write a Christian Devotional

Monday, May 24, 2010

Science Fiction Adventure for Boys

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

By Robert Liparulo

When you open the front cover of Frenzy, the first thing you will see is a note saying “Stop!” It goes on to tell you to read five other books before you read this one. Frenzy is the sixth book in the series called The Dreamhouse Kings. I wish I had had time to read the first five books. This one starts in the middle of the action and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. But it was a great story and I’m sorry I missed the beginning of it.

The series is written for adolescent boys, but anyone who likes adventure stories will love it. The two main characters are boys who live in a house with time travel portals. At some point in the series, their mother is kidnapped by someone who enters the house from another time. When the boys and their father search for her through different time and places, they learn the properties of time travel, their family history and they meet the villain, who uses the house to create wars in the past so that he can profit from them.

Frenzy opens with the boys caught as slaves in ancient Atlantis. They manage to escape, but encounter one bad situation after another. There doesn’t seem to be any safe place for them, even in their home, where they keep running into the villain and his henchman. They get help from their father and a couple of other adults, but even they are caught in the time travel puzzle. The whole series takes place in one week and this book all happens in two days. The title is appropriate because the family is caught in a frenzy of adventures that will leave you breathless.

Even in the midst of so much action, Liparulo manages to weave some complicated themes into the book. The boys ponder the nature of time travel and how they can change the future by changing the past. They are driven by their love for their mother, as well as for each other and the rest of the family. On the other hand, they encounter evil in most of the times and places they visit and the villain is relentless in his attempts to stop them from doing good. It’s not a simple story of love overcoming evil.

Besides being confused at the beginning of the book, I also was disturbed by the evil portrayed and didn’t see much hope for good to triumph. But through the boys’ determination to find their mother, their love for each other and one amazing historical encounter, I came to realize the book is really about the battle that all Christians are called to fight. And that battle has already been won.

I’m a little awed at how much Liparulo has crammed into this short book. I’d recommend it to anyone, but you should read the entire series, instead of starting with Frenzy, like I did. I can’t wait to read the other books and then come back to Frenzy.

Pros: Lots of action, some deep themes, courageous and loving characters and a fun science fiction concept.

Cons: A little too much violence.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Thomas Nelson (May 18, 2010)


Robert Liparulo


Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted in 2008 with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January 2009, and number four, Timescape, in July 2009, and number five, Whirlwind in December 2009. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page:


Their destiny is to fix history. Their dream is to get home.

When you live in a house that's really a gateway between past and present, you have to be ready for anything. It's a painful fact the Kings have faced since moving to Pinedale eight days ago. Desperately trying to rescue their mother from an unknown time and place, brothers Xander and David have lunged headlong into the chaos of history's greatest--and most volatile--events. But their goal has continually escaped their grasp.

And worse: Finding Mom is only a small part of what they must do, thanks to the barbaric Taksidian. His ruthless quest to sieze their house and its power from them has put not only the family, but all of mankind, in grave danger.

Somehow, the key to it all hinges on Uncle Jesse's words to the boys: "Fixing time is what our family was made to do." But how can they fix a world that has been turned updisde down--much less ever find their way home?

At long last, the secrets of the house and the King family are revealed in the stunning conclusion to this epic series.

To read the Prologue and first Chapter of Frenzy, click HERE.

Sign up for the Frenzy Newsletter HERE.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Internet Predator

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

By Terri Blackstock

Internet predators are a hot topic these days. Predator is the second novel I’ve read about it in the last two months. In this book, the predator takes advantage of na├»ve young girls who broadcast personal information on a social networking site called GrapeVyne. The main character, Krista, is the sister of a victim. When her sister’s body is found, she storms the office of the CEO of the site to demand it be shut down. To her surprise, Ryan Adkins is young and compassionate, and uses his position to help her educate others of the dangers.

This is isn’t really a crime drama, but Krista and Ryan, along with her father, help find the predator. I suppose the book is really a psychological thriller. Blackstock uses multiple point of view changes to let the reader feel the pain of the victims and their families, the guilt of the site creators and even the motivation of the predator. It’s a distressing topic and the characters are driven by their pain. Their actions are impulsive and foolish, their faith is challenged and God seems absent. But there is a valid resolution, with hope for healing.

It took me half of the book to begin to care about the characters. Krista’s and her father’s pain was foreign to me and their response was extreme. Although they were active members of a church, no one in that community seemed to offer support of any kind, and they were alone in their grief and anger. The police also seemed ineffective in searching for the predator, so all three protagonists believed that they had to find him themselves. Neither of those situations rang true to me, although the anguish that drove them was authentic. Surprisingly, the character I liked the most was the CEO of GrapeVyne. He risked everything to help Krista and provided the emotional support she badly needed.

Because this book is a mix of character and mystery, it will appeal to all types of readers. If you like character driven books with strong emotions, you’ll find it compelling. If you like murder mysteries, there are plenty of clues and twists to lead you to the predator. But if you’re looking for a definitive answer to the question of where God is when bad things happen, you might be disappointed. In spite of the absence of Christian counsel, I actually found that to be one of the most authentic things in the book. There are no easy answers to that question, and Blackstock doesn’t try to give one. Instead, she leaves us with hope in the goodness of God.

Pros: Strong characters who face a horrendous problem with deep emotions. It has a good mystery with a satisfying conclusion. It also helps reveal the problems with social networking.

Cons: The emotions are strong and hard for people who have not experienced extreme pain to relate to.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Zondervan (May 25, 2010)


Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.

In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.

Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


The murder of Krista Carmichael's fourteen-year-old sister by an online predator has shaken her faith and made her question God's justice and protection. Desperate to find the killer, she creates an online persona to bait the predator. But when the stalker turns his sights on her, will Krista be able to control the outcome?

Ryan Adkins started the social network GrapeVyne in his college dorm and has grown it into a billion-dollar corporation. But he never expected it to become a stalking ground for online Predators. One of them lives in his town and has killed two girls and attacked a third. When Ryan meets Krista, the murders become more than a news story to him, and everything is on the line.

Joining forces, he and Krista set out to stop the killer. But when hunters pursue a hunter, the tables can easily turn. Only God can protect them now.

Enter the Terri Blackstock iPad CONTEST:

To read the first chapter of Predator, click HERE.

Watch the book trailer video!

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Editing Tip #30: Handling Rejections

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


Rejections are part of the process for every writer who wants to get published. Louis L'Amour received 350 rejections before he made his first sale. James Joyce's first book of short stories was rejected by 22 publishers. C. S. Lewis wrote over 800 things before he made his first sale. Gone with the Wind was rejected by more than 20 publishers. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was turned down 29 times.

John Grisham was rejected by about 15 publishers and the same number of literary agents. When he finally found an agent willing to shop the book around, it took the agent a full year to secure a publisher. The initial press run was 5,000. And Grisham bought 1,000 of those himself.

I don’t know a single successful author who does not have a folder full of rejection letters. The keys to overcoming rejections are:

1. Show your manuscript to readers in your target audience. Solicit their honest feedback on the content. Make revisions based on their comments. If you get positive responses, ask permission to use their statements as endorsements in your book proposal.

2. Buy, read, and study as many books as you can find about writing, particularly the type of writing you are doing. Also study books on writing queries and book proposals.

3. Proofread your manuscript carefully, looking up in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition) any words you aren’t absolutely certain are spelled correctly. Brush up on your grammar skills.

4. Send your manuscript to a professional editor. (If you need help finding one, e-mail me!) Make every correction noted, and take very seriously all suggestions and recommendations for improvement.

5. Study the market. What else is out there similar to what you’re writing? How does your book fill a needed niche? Make note of your findings in your book proposal.

6. Attend writers’ conferences. This is one of the best venues for new writers to market their manuscripts. Find a conference where staff includes editors from publishing houses that print the type of book you’ve written. Pitch your idea. If an editor asks you to send a proposal, you can send it as “requested material,” which will put you above the unsolicited “slush pile.”

7. If you plan to write more than one book, seek an agent.

8. If you have a way to sell lots of copies yourself, consider subsidy publishing.

9. No matter what, be persistent. Don’t give up. If God has called you to write, He will prepare the path to publication. You must simply follow that “yellow brick road” one step at a time. God knows who He wants to reach and speak to with the words He has called you to put to paper. He also knows how long it takes to get a manuscript accepted and then published and then made available to the general public. He called you to write at the exact right time for His plan and purpose. Trust Him, and trust your calling. Missionaries don’t quit when the going gets tough. Neither should you.


NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coming Up Short


Lately, I've felt like I'm coming up short. There are a lot of articles circulating on the web about goals - how to set them, how to reach them - but it has come to my attention that I, personally, with all my writing to inspire others, have somehow failed to inspire myself.

Don't get me wrong. Writing so much "day in and day out" has changed me in a lot of ways, mostly for the better. I have found through blog postings a creative output that I really like. However, it has also taken away from a great portion of my time in the field photographing. I can remember my first digital camera and how I toted it with me everywhere I went. I have hard drive folders full of really terrible photographs I took back then. They are not really worth saving as I will never do anything with them, but they remind me of the enthusiasm I had then as new worlds opened before me. There is something to say for the ardor of a beginner.

March 26, 2001
Palmetto Blossoms

You cannot stay a beginner. I like to think I have improved my craft. I have pictures now that I am really proud of. I feel that over the years I have managed to learn something about photography and at the same time to keep my enjoyment of it. I still love, love, love photographs.

Writing about photography is so much fun. To take all those things I've gathered - through my own experiences (or lack thereof) - and have them categorized and set down is gratifying. It helps me to clarify my thoughts and comprehend my position in the photographic world, but in reverse, it also shows me the areas where I need improvement. So in the interest of self-preservation and growth, I have decided to publicly examine three areas where I feel I am inadequate. After all, sometimes looking at the negatives in your life pushes you more towards the positives.

Better Equipment
Types of Photographs

I have had four digital cameras since my start in photography. Each time I purchased a new one, it was to have more features than the previous camera. I have graduated more and more toward manual settings. I preach all the time about being able to take your camera out of AUTO and make the right decision for the best photograph. I have reached a point in my photography now where I need the big gun. I have avoided DSLRs to this point because, frankly, they scared me. I wanted the abilities they offered, but not enough to forsake the lightweight convenience of a point-and-shoot. Toting around a heavier camera and constantly having to deal with lens changes seemed like too much of a task for "little ol' me".

June 1, 2001
Pink Hydrangea

Yet now, the more I write about photography, the more it seems is expected of me as a photographer. I have been asked to do photo shoots that I have had to decline because my equipment just can't handle it. If you think that doesn't require swallowing some pride, you'd be wrong. It's very tough to say "no" and then have people look at your work and not understand. The fact is non-photography people assume when you can photograph flowers and insects and do it well, then why can't you photograph people too? I have in some ways sold myself short by not upgrading sooner.

This brings me to point number two, types of photographs, or I should say types of subjects. I have pretty well limited myself into the area of nature photography. I love photographing flora and fauna more than anything else. Yet when I have to move my thoughts back into my writing and the graphic design I do at work as well, sometimes the photo of a dragonfly or a lily flower just doesn't cut it. I then have to use the images of someone else instead of my own.

I see incredible work on the web of subjects I have never attempted to photograph. People photography is my biggest area of deficiency, but also architecture and more modern shots fail me. I can think of one guy in particular who does the most amazing images of road signs. Every time I filter through his pictures I find myself saying, "That is SO cool!"

August 10, 2000
Lovely Lotus

I have decided the best way to improve the types of subjects I photograph is to make myself a list. Whenever I realize, "Hey, I should have pictures of that," it is most important to write it down. This list will therefore become a sort of inventory of my goals because where goals are concerned I am lax. My family would tell you I like everything to be the same all the time. It is comforting to me to have nothing change. On the other hand, I am aware that it also severely limits me. Perhaps this new list will push me to walk more outside of my usual boundaries.

This leads me to my third area of insufficiency - self promotion. I have not really had a problem showing my work or sharing images with others. I Facebook. I Twitter. I blog. I am owner and moderator at a number of Yahoo groups. However, there are a number of things I avoid like the plague. Photo contests is the biggest.

When I began taking photographs, the field of digital photographers was relatively small. In the matter of only ten years, it has grown tremendously. Whereas you could enter a contest and had decent odds for placing or even winning, now the statistics are mostly against you. Knowing this, I never enter anything. It's not that I hate to lose. I am a graceful loser and will congratulate whomever wins. If I am being totally honest, my real reason is that it feels like such a fruitless use of my time.

I equate this deficiency to writing a book and never sending it in for publication. Why would you spend hours, days, and months, formulating paragraphs, plot, and characters and then never show it to anyone, never put it in print? That makes no more sense than not being proud enough of your work to set it up against that of others and have it judged. This goes a bit against my grain, and I am the first to admit it. I like "pats on the back" as well as anyone else, but the truth is I do not like the attention that comes with it. I am content to be a wallflower most of the time, admired once in a while and forgotten the rest. But this does not, I see now, set me towards accomplishing anything. If I don't try, I will then never complete. I will instead remain stagnant, exactly where I am.

April 7, 2002
Wildflowers in the Spring

I never try to sell anything either. I have sold things, but never through any promotion of my own. "The love of money is the root of all evil," so the scripture says. (1 Timothy 6:10) Well, I like buying new things; a few dollars in hand are great. However, my friends and family would tell you I definitely don't "love" money. I am as happy giving a photo away as I am selling it. At what point, however, does my ability to offer things for free begin to hurt me as a photographer? I'm not sure just yet I know the answer, nor do I think I'll ever be someone who feels their photographs are worth hundreds of dollars. That smacks of snobbery, which I can't stand. Yet I should be able to earn something for all my efforts. After all, people do not generally speaking employ themselves at a job and then decline their paycheck. "Oh no, Boss, you keep it."

I am all about honesty, and writing this particular blog is as honest as I can get, about my photography and my ability as a photographer, and a bit about myself. I now have a goal, one which I have made for myself, and that is set for myself more goals. More than that, it is to accomplish these goals. I know in the end I will become better at my chosen craft, and you, the reader, in the end will benefit more as I write about it.

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Remember the Sixties?

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

This Fine Life
By Eva Marie Everson

In This Fine Life, narrator Marriette Scott tells her readers that this is her husband’s story. She relates how they met and married, and how he became a preacher. In spite of her assurance, the book describes her feelings about him and the life they create together. She is passionately in love, but doesn’t understand his passion for God. She’s scared of becoming a preacher’s wife because she doesn’t know how to be one. There is a tension within Mariette that will made it hard for me to put the book down. There is also a hint in the prologue that kept me reading to see what would happen to Thayne, her husband.

The story is set in the late sixties, and Everson’s historical details are exceptional. Her descriptions of clothing and hairstyles, settings and language ring true to anyone who lived then. The relationships are the most impressive example of this. It’s hard now to grasp how different marriages were 40 years ago. Christian wives today may acknowledge that our husbands are the heads of our families and that God wants us to submit to them, but that means something different to us than it did before women’s lib. Marriette marries a man who becomes a preacher. Thayne loves God, his wife and his calling, but he makes life changing decisions without consulting her and then expects her to be happy about them. It’s enough to make me want to shake him. And yet, he is loved by everyone, including his wife.

As the story developed, I came to understand why it was Thayne’s story. The situation he encounters doesn’t appear until the end, but the climax will give you something to think about for a while. The solution is typical of the sixties and would be different if it were to occur today. But it is just what it should be, and helps Mariette resolve her dilemma about being a preacher’s wife.

I loved this book and I know that you will too. I looked forward to reading it because I liked Everson’s last book, Things Left Unspoken, and it did not disappoint.

Pros: Historically accurate account of life in the sixties, with compelling characters, some humor and a very moving dramatic conclusion.

Cons: Much of the book is a day to day narrative of a woman’s life and may not appeal to everyone.

Available May 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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How to Write a Christian Devotional

What is a Devotional
A devotional is typically a short piece of writing of no more than a page or 200 to 300 words. It normally contains a passage from the Bible and a real life experience that is connected to the Scripture. It concludes with a prayer or a thought for the day.

Step by Step Instructions for Writing a Devotional
Devotionals come in many forms and layouts but here is a basic outline of how to put one together.
· Choose a Bible verse or two to base the devotional on
· Relate the Bible verse to modern-day living by telling a story that illustrates the meaning of the Scripture
· Write the story in a way that draws the reader in and captures interest
· Focus on one point that you want to convey to the reader
· Don’t write as though preaching. A devotional is more like a chat between friends
· Write a concluding prayer that summarizes the content of the devotional
· Select a suitable title

What Qualifications are Needed to Write Devotionals
Apart from writing ability, a person needs to have a close relationship with God and an enquiring mind that sees the connection between natural things and the Bible. Simple everyday occurrences are opportunities to see God at work and writing these down can bless those who read them.

Why should I Write Devotionals
Devotional writing causes writers to grow and develop in their Christian walk. To be successful at it, they need to spend time reading the Bible and praying and asking God for inspiration. A good devotional will also draw the readers closer to God.

Devotional writing is a fulfilling form of writing and when others are blessed by it, it makes the effort worthwhile. There is also some money to be made from writing devotionals – not a lot – but it is out there.

Come back next week to look at markets for devotional writing.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Evolution, Creation and Murder

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

Deadly Disclosures
By Julie Cave

Christianity under attack seems to be a popular theme among Christian crime writers. Whether an organized conspiracy really exists, it can provide great drama if done right. In Deadly Disclosures, the specific sides are evolutionists and Creation scientists. But is belief in evolution a strong enough motivation for murder?

The book is a tight, well written crime drama, with the creation argument in the background. Two FBI agents search for the murderer of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. New bodies keep popping up during their investigation, all of them people they have questioned. They need to act quickly to stop more deaths, but are frustrated by a lack of evidence. Before long they realize they are looking for a professional killer. Their search is complicated by high level suspects who stonewall them. And it doesn’t help that one of the agents is a depressed alcoholic.

Dinah Harris, the despondent agent, is the main character and most of the story is told from her point of view. We meet her in the depths of her depression when she is contemplating ending her life. The reasons for it are revealed little by little, but the effects escalate through the book. The fascinating thing is that Dinah’s problems and the crime investigation are intertwined and work together to produce a great story. At the end, one is resolved satisfactorily, and the other leaves the door open for a sequel.

Murder mysteries have to be very carefully plotted to be plausible. I want enough clues to make me think I might figure it out, but I want to be surprised by believable, but unexpected twists. Cave has done this well, with the exception of a few minor inconsistencies. The only thing I questioned was the motivation for the murders. It’s a question the FBI agents also asked. Is belief in evolution a strong enough motive for murder? In the end, they received an answer, but I was not completely convinced.

Deadly Disclosures is a great crime drama and it’s exciting to see such a well written book coming from the Christian market.

Pros: Tight plot, well developed characters and a personal problem that makes you care.

Cons: Perhaps a little too much time spent on the science of Creation, although it is explained in terms a lay person can easily understand.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deadly Disclosure
New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (February 15, 2010)

Julie Cave


Julie first heard a creation science speaker at her church when she was just 15, igniting her interest in creation science and sparking an enthusiasm for defending the Bible’s account of creation. She has obtained a degree in health science, and is currently completing a degree in law. Julie is married with one daughter and lives on the east coast of Australia.


A Suspense-filled mystery which answers an ominous question: How far will some go to silence an influential Christian voice?

Thomas Whitfield, proud Secretary of the Smithsonian and its extensive scientific influence, has disappeared from his office with foul play suspected. Dinah Harris, an FBI agent struggling with alcohol and depression, is seeking answers amidst the fallout of her own personal issues.

Whitfield's body is eventually found, and other people connected to him begin dying as well, ultimately exposing a broader conspiracy connected to Whitfield's recent conversion to Christ and promotion of a biblical worldview in an academic world of financial gain hostile to this concept.

Will Dinah be able to experience the redemptive power of Christ before it's too late? Or will the ominous danger stalking her investigation claim another victim?

To read the first chapter of Deadly Disclosure, click HERE.

Watch the Video Book Trailer:

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Editing Tip #29: Polishing Tips

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.


Style Guides. Most American book publishers use The Chicago Manual of Style. If you don’t have one, I strongly encourage you to purchase it. (The current edition is the 15th, but the 16th is scheduled for release in fall 2010.) The Associated Press Stylebook is used for newspapers and journalistic magazines. If you’re writing for the Christian market, get The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style by Robert Hudson (2004 edition).

Dictionaries. Book publishers use Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition). For articles, use Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Sentence Spacing. Put one space between each sentence, not two. If you’re used to two, it can be a tough habit to break. There’s an easy fix, though. Just use “find and replace” to find two spaces and replace with one space. Click “replace all” until the count gets down to zero.

Paragraph Indent. Always indent each paragraph with the Tab key to 1/2 inch. Do not use the spacebar. Don’t add blank lines between paragraphs. And take out any automatic paragraph spacing your word-processing program may add.

Italics or Underscore. Underlining of text that is to be italicized when the book goes to print used to be the standard. But typesetting has become computerized to the point where most publishers now want italicized text to be italicized in the author’s manuscript.

Scene Breaks for Fiction. Insert a blank line to signal a change in time, location, or point of view. Skip an extra line between scenes and place a pound sign (#) centered on the skipped line.

Dashes. An em dash is formed using two consecutive hyphens without spaces before or after. Most word-processing programs can automatically change this to an “em dash”—which is perfectly acceptable and preferred by some publishers. For book manuscripts, an en dash should be used between consecutive numbers, such as in Scripture references or dates. (Articles don’t use en dashes; use a hyphen in these instances.) Just be sure your entire manuscript is consistent one way or the other. Either use hyphens throughout or use em and en dashes throughout.

Ellipsis. The ellipsis (. . .) consists of three dots with spaces before, after, and between each period. If the ellipsis occurs at the beginning or end of a quotation or parentheses, there’s no space between the first or final dot and the quotation mark or parenthesis.

NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this
publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the
author. To request permission, please e-mail


Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Five Senses


How would you interpret the senses?


- the power or faculty of seeing; perception of objects by use of the eyes; vision.

Male Blue Dasher Dragonfly on Zinnia
Male Blue Dasher Dragonfly on Zinnia

Lunar Escape
Lunar Escape


- the quality of a thing that is or may be smelled; odor; scent.


Peppermint Rose


- to perceive or distinguish the flavor of

Red Grapes
Red Grapes

Wild Raspberries
Wild Raspberries


- the quality of something touched that imparts a sensation


Salt Marsh Moth Caterpillar
Unknown Caterpillar


- to receive information by the ear or otherwise:

Cleansing the Soul, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia
Cleansing the Soul, Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia

Singing, Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

*All definitions are from

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Five Senses and Description

Creating Mood with Touch, Smell, Taste, Hearing and Sight.

Atmosphere is an important part of fiction writing. The reader needs to feel as though they are right in the midst of the scene. Atmosphere can be built over a few paragraphs by introducing and making use of the five senses. Before starting to write, ascertain what type of feeling is needed; joyful, melancholy, fearful, loneliness etc.

Introduce touch by describing textures and surfaces.
The dress was so sheer that it slid through her fingers like liquid silk.
The gravel was rough under her cheek; hard lumps that grazed and bruised.
The pillow was textured like a soft marshmallow.

Smell is a powerful tool for setting a scene.
The fabric was permeated with pungent garlic and rich curries.
Her fragrance lingered like honeysuckle on a warm afternoon.
Acrid smoke mushroomed into the house, searing and choking.

Taste is closely associated to smell and they work well together.
The coffee was smooth and strong with a hint of sweet caramel.
The flavor of lemon burst into her mouth, puckering her lips.
The liquid tasted soapy and caught the back of his throat.

Hearing creates atmosphere as well as painting a picture of the scene.
Crashing waves, thundered across the rocks.
The bird’s wings beat a frantic tattoo against expansive glass windows.
His breath escaped as a slight rasp as he collapsed against her.

This is the most common sense that writers draw upon.
Her skin was grey like clouds on a winter morning.
The net was bursting with fish, silvery with peach blushes along their sides.
Turquoise and sapphire streams merged before mingling with deep navy waters.

Combining All Five
A skilled writer will combine the use of the five senses to present a well rounded story that comes alive to the reader. Aim at including all five senses in a longer piece or a couple of them in a short paragraph as shown below:

The moon was buttery and round that night, cream against ink, spilling pale shafts of light into the wood shed. He selected some blue gum logs and one by one, split them and split them again. Then stacked them in a box, aromatic resin leaking across his fingers like myrrh. He paused for a moment breathing in the fresh, woody fragrance. Pondering on what he was about to do.

With practice, it becomes easier and easier to create a story with atmosphere. Make a habit of observing different situations and take note of the textures and tastes, sounds and smells encountered. Many beginners make the mistake of only describing what they see in their minds. Don’t neglect the other senses; learn to write a fully rounded story, full of atmosphere.
Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More Weddings by Bella

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

It Had to Be You
By Janice Thompson

The Weddings by Bella series has a cute concept and introduces the reader to a lot of quirky characters. I enjoyed Swin
ging on a Star, the second in the series, although I would classify it as light reading. In the series, Bella Rossi takes over her parents’ wedding facility and introduces themed weddings. The weddings are a backdrop for the real stories, which are about Bella’s large Italian family. They live in Texas and Bella is engaged to a native Texan. Both her family and D.J.’s are full of characters and the joining of the two cultures can be quite funny.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the third book of the series, It Had to Be You.

In this book, Bella plans the wedding of her aunt and uncle, who, after 15 years of feuding, have finally admitted their love for each other. At the same time, she worries about when she will find time to plan her own wedding, scheduled for two months after theirs. Of course, things do not go smoothly and Bella becomes more and more frazzled. Most of the action takes place during the week leading up to Rosa’s and Laz’s wedding. Rossi relatives from Italy arrive, as well as Uncle Laz’s friend with Mob connections. Throw in a senior citizen swing band with one female member, a missing best friend and a trio of Spirit filled spinsters, and the week is quite hectic. The wedding ends with a series of events that leave Bella frantic, but should make you laugh.

The situations are amusing, but the characters are mostly Christians and they respond with faith. Everyone wants to see the Mob friend saved, but their witness isn’t always what it should be and in the end they to turn to the Lord, as they know they should have from the start.

My disappointment lay in the cartoonish quality of the characters and situations. I had already been introduced to Bella’s and D.J.’s families, including the three Spirit filled women on the prowl for a good man. This book adds Bella’s Italian relatives, who also love the Lord, but are a bit focused on women’s looks. The situations that emerge are overblown and I found the exaggeration tedious, rather than funny. The book is told in first person, and Bella’s voice is also exaggerated. I found her annoying in the way a relative with repetitive habits can sometimes be. We see the Italians through Bella’s lens, and they talk just like the Americans, even when they speak in Italian. The whole book felt like Thompson had written it in a hurry and relied on the work she had done for the other books in the series instead of making this one fresh.

In spite of the over-the-top characters and events, the end of the book is actually well plotted. The story doesn’t end when you expect it to, and the things that happen to Bella give her a chance to refocus on her priorities, including her career, marriage and relationship with the Lord. If you like her voice, you’ll get a funny view of how some Christians approach the ups and downs of life.

Pros: Funny situations and quirky characters from a Christian perspective.

Con: Everything in the book is an exaggeration and the story is does not have a lot of depth.

About the book:

Bella couldn't be happier that two of her long-feuding relatives have finally admitted their love for one another and are getting married. Their forties-style wedding is sure to be a night to remember. But when the Rossi house begins to fill up with family from Italy--and an old mobster from New Jersey--life starts to get complicated. Will a friend from the past drive the happy couple apart once more? And will Bella ever have time to think of her own rapidly approaching wedding amid the chaos?

Full of humor, plenty of Italian passion, and a bit of Texas gumption, It Had to Be You will have you laughing out loud and wiping a tear from your eye.

About the author:

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson brings alive in her books the everyday drama and humor of getting married. She is the author of Fools Rush In and Swinging on a Star. She lives in Texas.

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